July Fourth Travel: Auto Club Says Slight Downturn Expected

Travel
(LOS ANGELES, June 30, 2008)Local travel for the Independence Day holiday is expected to decline by less than one percent compared to last year, according to projections from the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Nearly 3.029 million Southern Californians are expected to take holiday trips this week, down eight-tenths of one percent from last year’s 3.053 million travelers. Eighty percent of Southland travelers, or 2.4 million, will go by car, which is a decrease of four-tenths of one percent from last year. And 420,000 travelers are expected to go by plane, which is a 3.2 percent decline compared to last year.

“Our record gas prices clearly are affecting travel for the second holiday in a row, but not by a significant amount,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “This trend of a slight decline is confirmed in a separate survey of Auto Club members showing that three-quarters of our members plan to take at least the same number of summer trips as they did in 2007, and nine out of ten of our members will take at least one overnight trip this summer.”

Statewide, 4.86 million are expected to travel over the holiday – also a decline of 0.8 percent, while 3.9 million Californians are expected to drive and 673,000 are expected to fly. Nationally, July Fourth travel is expected to decline by 1.3 percent compared to last year, with 40.45 million Americans projected to take trips.

The top destinations for Southern California travelers over the July Fourth holiday, according to a survey of local AAA travel agents, are:

1) San Diego 

2) Las Vegas

3) Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)

4) National parks (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Sequoia)

5) San Francisco

Travelers to Northern and Central California are advised to take wildfire conditions into account when planning their routes. State Route 1 may not be available. For hourly updates on highway closures, motorists can call the California Highway Information Number at (800) 427-7623.

Saving money on gas will be a concern for many drivers this holiday. The Auto Club advises motorists to:

1) Try to plan departure times that don’t coincide with heavy traffic

2) Make sure their vehicle is in good condition and that tires are properly inflated before hitting the road

3) Drive gently and steadily, gradually stepping on the gas and anticipating stops by slowly decelerating

4) Avoid speeding. Your vehicle gets significantly better fuel economy at 65 mph than at 80 mph.

5) Use an online mapping tool such as AAA Triptik to determine where the best gas prices are located along your route and buy gas at those locations.